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Country roads cash crisis

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Lack of State Government funding is resulting in poorly maintained roads and dangerous intersections in country Victoria which are a major cause of Victoria’s appalling country road death figures according to Nationals MP for Benalla Bill Sykes.

193 Victorians died on country roads in 2006. This was 57% of all deaths on Victorian roads.

Whilst deaths on city roads decreased from 255 in 2000 to 144 in 2006, deaths on country roads increased from 182 in 2000 to 193 in 2006. (ie from 44% of total road deaths in 2000 to 57% of total road deaths in 2006).

“A significant part of the problem is the lack of funding for country road maintenance and upgrades”, said Dr Sykes.

“For example in Strathbogie Shire, Creighton’s Creek Road, which is very narrow and poorly maintained, will not be substantially upgraded until at least 2018 – How many locals and visitors have to die before this road is upgraded?”

“Similarly in Benalla, two dangerous intersections are the sites of several accidents and many near misses.

“The Samaria Road / Witt Street junction with the Old Sydney Road is a nightmare, especially at peak times before and after work.

“There are also major issues with SES volunteers accessing their headquarters and SES vehicles attending emergencies.

“The Kilfeera/Samaria Road intersection (the Hospital corner) is also extremely busy and the scene of recent accidents and near misses.

“Student Nicole Briggs, has expressed her concerns to me and in one case her father was extremely lucky to escape serious injury after a car crashed into his bicycle at the intersection.

“The Wangaratta-Whitfield Road is also in need of extensive upgrades in addition to much welcomed recent works as are all the district unmade roads damaged by the bushfires and excessive CFA tanker traffic.

“The problem will be exacerbated by increased timber truck traffic as they transport burnt logs salvaged from the recent fires.

Dr Sykes continued, “A Parliamentary Inquiry into the Country Road Toll in 2005 had led to The Nationals campaign to secure extra road funding for rural and regional Victoria.

“The report recommended that VicRoads should implement a major program to upgrade Category C roads to make them safer”, Dr Sykes said.

“That report endorsed our view that improving the quality of roads can help to reduce the disproportionately high country road toll. The RACV has also found that safe roads minimise the chances of crashes occurring in the first place.

“The RACV believes that it will take $200 million a year for the next 10 years to bring country highways up to the required standard.

“The government can afford to spend more money on country roads. If it stopped wasting money on propaganda advertising and self-promotion, there would be millions of dollars available today to spend on country roads.”

Among the other recommendations included in the Parliamentary Inquiry report were support for:

  • Increased government funding for safety improvements;
  • A Transport Accident Commission advertising campaign specifically designed for country audiences;
  • Increasing the number or rest areas on rural roads to address fatigue issues; and
  • Further emphasis being given to improving safety on roadsides by removing hazards and installing appropriate barriers.

The Nationals MPs throughout Victoria are distributing more than 10,000 car bumper stickers with the message: Fix country roads, save country lives.


Written by Greg Naylor

11 February 2007 at 8:00 pm

Posted in media release

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